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Originally published Monday, November 21, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Ana Mari Cauce should be UW's next provost

University of Washington Dean Ana Mari Cauce is a seasoned insider who, alongside UW President Michael Young, offers powerful and balanced leadership at a critical time.

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THE University of Washington is making a terrific choice in Dean Ana Mari Cauce as its next provost. She's a seasoned insider who, alongside UW President Michael Young, offers powerful and balanced leadership at a critical time.

Higher education is in crisis. It needs a champion. A sense of urgency stems not just from Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed overall 15 percent cut in higher-education funding but also the possibility voters will decide about a sales-tax measure to restore the proposed cuts.

Young arrived in July and is settling in. People are still getting to know him. That makes it more important for the second-in-command to be someone who knows the local landscape and the players. Cauce can help discern the fickle policies and politics that are driving a decline in the state portion of higher-education funding. When Young goes to Olympia to advocate before the state Legislature, his voice will be greatly informed by Cauce's perspective.

After 25 years at the UW, Cauce has strong relationships with its deans and faculty. Leaders of the other four-year institutions and 34 technical and community colleges know her.

She came up through the ranks, first as an assistant psychology professor, then as chair of the psychology department, later as executive vice provost and currently as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. She is a known and trusted entity on campus.

As the UW's chief academic officer, Cauce will bring her decades of insider perspective to bear in helping Young determine what is critical for the UW and what budget pressures will no longer allow.

Cauce has a wonderful personal story — the daughter of a Cuban minister of education under President Fulgencio Batista. Her parents fled Cuba on the last day of 1958 just before Fidel Castro's communist government took over.

Her talk of the UW's hard work recruiting and retaining low-income students is compelling. More can always be done to broaden and deepen educational opportunities. Our bet is that Cauce is the one to help do it.

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